Top-ranked Stefan Edberg overcame a shaky start to beat Alexander Volkov, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, yesterday, setting up a final with No. 2 Boris Becker in the Stockholm Open. Becker reached today's final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over U.S. Open champion Pete Sampras.
Edberg struggled early, then rallied from a 2-5 deficit in the first set. He aced the final point to win the tiebreaker. "I have to serve well to play good tennis, but I had big problems early," Edberg said. "I picked up after breaking him for 4-5."
Edberg broke Volkov with a backhand passing shot for a 3-1 lead in the second set and held easily the rest of the way, avenging a first-round loss to the unseeded Soviet in the U.S. Open, after Edberg won the Wimbledon final over Becker.
Becker has a 2-1 edge over Edberg in their three matches this year, the German winning a Queens Club semifinal before losing the Wimbledon final and winning the Sydney Indoors final this month.
Becker broke serve once each set in beating fourth-seeded Sampras.
"The difference between Boris and myself," said Sampras, "is that when it comes to crunch time, to a break point, he's going to get his first serve in at 120 miles per hour while I'm going to miss it."
"That's what happened in the first set when I double-faulted on a break point. That cost me the set."
Becker set up his first break point with sharp service returns. Down by 30-40, Sampras double faulted, giving Becker a 3-2 lead. The 19-year-old Californian had two chances to break back to 5-5, "but he served well and there was nothing I could do," he said.
WITA Indoor: Top-seeded Steffi Graf defeated Catarina Lindqvist, 6-2, 7-5, in Brighton, England, and Helena Sukova, the third seed, outlasted second-seeded Katerina Maleeva, 6-4, 6-7, (5-7), 6-3 in slightly more than two hours to reach her first final in four months.
The final will be the 18th meeting between the two winners. Sukova has won once -- when Graf was 14 years old. Sukova has won only three sets in their 16 matches since.
"I have played good matches against her in the past," Sukova said. "But I would like to play a good match and win, not just a good match and lose."
Puerto Rico Open: Second-seeded Jennifer Capriati used an overpowering baseline game to oust No. 6 Gigi Fernandez, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinals in San Juan. Top-seeded Zina Garrison advanced to today's final with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over unseeded Carrie Cunningham.
Capriati, seeking her first tournament title since turning pro in March, attacked Fernandez's second service, hitting effective winners down the line. "I was having a good day with my ground strokes so I went with that," she said.
Garrison, playing from the baseline all week, used a big serve to attack the net and stop Cunningham's quick ground strokes.